I wake up on day two with one thought on my mind, “Thank goodness I pre-ordered my breakfast from room service last night.” There is a buffet offered by the conference downstairs, but there is no way I’m going to make it and I knew that from the moment I got into my room a few hours before. I jump in the shower and I’m ecstatic that as soon as I finish getting ready my breakfast arrives right on schedule. I need to post a picture of this just because of the sheer perfection that is this sandwich. I swear I’ll be trying to recreate this awesomeness in my kitchen for the rest of my life. It’s a runny over-easy egg served on buttered and toasted rye bread with cheese, bacon and tomato.
I walk into conference room number two to find it’s a full house and not one chair is available. I really wanted to take this class so I sit on the carpet near the back. The feeling seems to be mutual with other attendees since people keep coming in and sitting on the floor wherever space is available. I’m also very pleased with my choice of jeans over a skirt at this point.
This workshop, “Deep POV: How to Increase the Intimacy between Your Characters and Your Readers”, is wonderful and I’ll talk about every workshop in a separate post later. The worst part of the workshop? The woman sitting behind me who apparently couldn’t stop talking to save her life. Even the woman she was speaking to was ignoring her. But, there’s always a bright side to be found and the fun part about this is that through our mutual annoyance of “The Talker” I met Claudia, my new friend and the woman I would enjoy the rest of my conference with. Ah, bitterness, where would I be without you!
Attending this conference is apparently the best diet you can go on. We spent three days running from workshop to workshop, lucky if we managed to grab a coffee or for that matter a bathroom break between sessions! I’m sure in the years to come I’ll become less obsessive, but there was just so much to learn and see. We wanted to go everywhere and do everything! Most times workshops, publisher spotlight events and book signings were scheduled on top of each other so we would race to the signing either before or after and run back into the next workshop. I’ve never been so happy to be hungry and exhausted. It was great!
Claudia and I made our way into the Marquis Ballroom on time, but we were surprised to find hardly a seat remaining. The meal had already begun and from what we could tell the food service began the moment each individual sat down. It took a little hunting but we finally found a table with two chairs free!
We pulled out our chairs to have a seat and were surprised to find more free books! I slipped them into my ever present tote bag and we sat down to eat. I was sitting next to the most adorable older woman. I mention older only because she must have been at least seventy. I loved the thought that this woman enjoyed writing so much that even in her later years she still made her way to the conference and shared in the excitement. I hope to be in her shoes decades from now.
The food was great; they served a mixed green salad with yummy house dressing to start. By the time our main dish arrived, a grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables and roasted purple potatoes, Stephanie Laurens made her way onto the stage. She spoke about the changing trends in publishing, the increase of e-publishing, what this means and how it affects publishers and authors alike. She is a fantastic speaker and I hung onto her every word as she spoke. It was funny to listen to all the clinking and clattering of cutlery as she spoke, but I am probably the only one who noticed. Her speech was fairly quick and lasted until the end of the meal, so, although this event was scheduled as a two hour event, it only took about an hour and everyone left after the deliciously strong coffee and desert was served.
The only thing left this afternoon was the Annual General Meeting. Although all members are welcome to attend, I chose to skip this one. There weren’t any other workshops that afternoon. We decided to take the next two hours to rest in our rooms before getting ready for our next outing!
Van Gogh Vodka sponsored “Romancing the Cocktail”
After registering for the conference I received an email for this event. You had to RSVP by a certain date and I did even though I figured I might not show up when the time came. At least the option would be there. Claudia had RSVP’d as well, so at a quarter to six we made our way to the event. It was a bartender from Van Gogh Vodka and he made three drinks for us. They. Were. So. Good! There was a drink made with each of the following:
Pomegranate Vodka (Honey Pom Pom: 1.5oz VG Pomegranate, 75oz pom juice, .5oz lemon juice, .25oz honey syrup. Shake well w/ice & strain into martini glass.)
Peach Vodka (Best Billini Ever: 1 oz. VG Cool Peach Vodka, 1/4 of a ripe peach, 1 tsp. agave nectar, 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice, 3 oz. Prosecco)
Chocolate Vodka (Dutch Chocolate Desire: 1.5oz VG Dutch Chocolate, 1oz milk, 1tsp chic syrup, 1tsp coconut cream. Blend in blender w/ice and pour into glass).
The pomegranate and chocolate ones were by far my favorite. I couldn’t manage to catch a photo of any of the drinks beforehand! I did however get a photo of what was left of my glass of chocolate vodka frozen goodness. I have to be honest, we weren’t listening too closely to the bartender while he was explaining things. Thankfully they provided a list of recipes!
Yes, this segment deserves all caps. I would install little blinking lights to announce it if I had any idea how. Packed at all hours of the day, and not just for drinking, the food was great too. I unfortunately don’t have any photos because nothing lasted long enough to capture on film. We were famished and usually sat down to eat at around four or five o’clock. The beef/pork/duck street tacos (three different types) and quesadilla with a huge side of guacamole became quick favorites and we kept re-ordering them. I tried to stray and ordered calamari once, and they were great, but I spent the rest of the night fantasizing about the shredded beef taco that got away. So sad.
This is also where the best conversations took place. At the end of the day everyone would share stories and experiences. It didn’t matter how long you’ve been writing, one year, ten, twenty, published or not, everyone shared information freely. I’ve never met a group of people so ready and willing to help each other out and try and advance someone else’s career. We’re really lucky.
Tonight, on our way from the Van Gogh event to the bar, we ran into author Jessica Scott. We stopped and introduced ourselves and she was nice enough to talk to us for about five minutes before we continued on our way to the bar.
The ridiculousness continued as we sat down amid a bit of a commotion tonight. There was something different in the water tonight. It didn’t take too long to find the lone guy in the middle of the swarm of women. I noticed his RWA badge and because I’m first and foremost cynical, my first assumption was that he swiped someone’s badge to pick up women. Ridiculous I know, but I’m the least trusting person you’ll ever meet and its best you know that now. The other women, the ones grounded in reality, picked up on what I missed. He’s a cover model. Okay, my bad. I totally didn’t see that one coming. Apparently this guy has been on a couple thousand romance novel covers and he currently works for an indie publication magazine.
That’s him in the middle (obviously) in the photo to the right. On his left, holding the iPad, is author Calista Fox. She’s got her browser open to the image of one of her books with him on the cover. On his right is author Erin Quinn who has also had him on her book covers. Both Calista and Erin are so kind and spoke to us a lot over the course of the conference. Erin also hosted a workshop called, SOS (Simple Organic Structure) for writers. One of the better workshops and I highly recommend this one. Alas, I was exhausted and wanted to go back to my room to rest. Claudia and I made plans to meet back at the bar a little later, but once my body hit the bed I fell asleep, desperate to rest before I tortured it again tomorrow. It’s not used to having so much fun you see!